Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Stockholm Konserthus, Sweden

Whether from Gothenburg or Stockholm, these live concerts, without audience yet air-waved to the World, have proved to be fresh and stimulating experiences. This from Stockholm was no exception, engagingly introduced in English by Martin Fröst, clarinet in hand, and opening with Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion (in a version for clarinet and strings), smoochy yet darkly expressive, a fine showcase for Fröst’s lyrical prowess, if not as soulful as the first movement of Aaron Copland’s Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra (with harp and piano), written for Benny Goodman. The Swedish performers, building on Fröst & the RSPO’s thirty-year relationship, touched the heart with Copland’s bittersweet melody. Then Fröst made capricious work of the cadenza which bridges into the jazzy Finale, here swaggering and dynamic – volume contrasts faithfully relayed by the broadcast – building to a dizzying conclusion. Lastly, Beethoven’s First Symphony, Fröst trading clarinet for baton, a crisp and elegant account, alive with incident, and including a flute trill in the final movement that was new to me (a Fröst-ism perhaps?). Throughout, in response to Fröst’s spirited but not rushed tempos, the Stockholm Philharmonic members were a model of precision and enthusiasm.